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What Microphone Should I Use?
The choice of microphone is definitely a personal preference. There is no definitive answer to this question! Great records have been created with some of the cheapest microphones and also some of the most expensive microphones.
If you are looking to spend under a £100 on a microphone to record vocals then the most popular option is the Shure SM58. This microphone has been used in countless recordings and is seen as a good “all rounder”. The mid range of this microphone is emphasised, making it excellent choice for rock and rap vocals.
In order to understand which other microphones might suit your needs, it’s necessary to understand a little bit about the different types available.
A dynamic microphone has a moving coil and uses electromagnetic conduction to capture sound. Dynamic microphones are commonly used in live music because they are rugged and relatively cheap to replace or repair. Examples include: Shure SM58 / 57.
A ribbon mic is similar to a dynamic mic, but the diaphragm is a ribbon of conductive material, which is usually aluminium. Ribbon mics are often considered to be the most smooth and natural sounding mics, but they have gained a reputation for being quite fragile. Ribbon mics also don’t require a power supply or batteries in operation. Examples include: Beyer M130 & M160.
3. Condenser (capacitor)
Condenser microphones are often more fragile and expensive than dynamic microphones. They are generally more sensitive than other mics, which means they are good at picking up soft or distant sounds. Condenser mics require additional power to operate. Examples include: AKG C3000, Octava MK-219
Electret microphones are another type of capacitor microphone and require a pre amplifier. Examples include: AKG C1000.
Even if you are lucky enough to find a mic that suits the vocals you are recording, that same mic may not be quite right for recording drums or other instruments. If you have the opportunity, it is always worth trying as many microphones as you can to find a couple that suit your purposes. The most important thing is to trust your instincts and find a microphone that works for you.
Article written by Chris Haines.
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